Becoming a Singular, Sensational Church
Words for 7th Sunday of Easter – 24 May 2020 – Parish of Felixstowe
A Cyber Sermon from the Vicarage
…that they may be one, as we are one. (John 17v1)
God give you peace my sisters and brothers.
Please click here to watch a video of the song ‘One’ from the Musical ‘A Chorus Line’)
One singular sensation, every little step she takes
One thrilling combination, every move that she makes
One smile and suddenly nobody else will do
You know you’ll never be lonely with you-know-who
One moment in her presence and you can forget the rest
For the girl is second best to none, son
Oooh! Sigh! Give her your attention
Do I really have to mention she’s the one
She walks into a room and you know she’s
uncommonly rare, very unique
peripatetic, poetic and chic
She walks into a room and you know from her
maddening poise, effortless whirl
(One thrilling combination, every move that she makes
She’s a special girl)
Can’t help all of her qualities extolling
Loaded with charisma is my
jauntily, sauntering, ambling, shambler
One, and you know you must
Shuffle along, join the parade
She’s the quintessence of making the grade
This is whatcha call trav’ling!
Oh strut your stuff!
Can’t get enough!
Ooh! Sigh! Give her your attention
Do I really have to mention
She’s the one!
The relationship between Chorus Line and Director and audience in ‘A Chorus Line’ are complex and intense. There was a certain genius in Bob Fosse placing the Director in the middle of the audience which brought everyone into the agonising place of choosing ‘how many boys, how many girls’ all of whom ‘really need this job’. We, the ones who are being entertained are forced to make the choice as to who it is will be ‘The One’.
And then there is the sub-plot between the Director and Cassie, an old flame of his. Used to being a prima donna, Cassie finds it difficult to temper her performance to become part of the Chorus. To be ‘The One’ she has to learn to be ‘at one’ with the ‘many’.
For the others auditioning for the job the Director demands that they unravel their soul before their voice and dance is added to the Company. They must tell of their journey, their hopes, their dreams, their failures, and of their determination to add their distinctiveness to the Company to become ‘One’.
So too in the church. Each of us is called to bring our distinctiveness to the song of God’s great love but there is only one melody and our different voices are to be added together to make the harmony. This is at the heart of Jesus’ prayer, …that they may be one, as we are one. (John 17v1)
When we choose to put our own voice first we easily drown out the cry of our weaker sisters and brothers. For some being a ‘prima donna’ is easy and humility is a lesson that is essential and often hard to learn.
I remember the time when I was one of just four White students amongst 120 others at a Black Seminary in Apartheid South Africa. It was difficult to learn that just because I ‘could’ speak on an issue did not mean that I ‘should’ speak. I had to learn to listen to the gentle quiet stories of those whose voice was a whisper compared to my brashness and I am forever grateful to fellow students who turned to me and said, ‘Dotchin, phansi, thula!’ (sit down and be quiet!)
After all how can we hear another’s voice if our own words drown their story?
How can we dance in step if we always insist on marching to the beat of a different drum?
To be part of ‘A Chorus Line’ demands unity, forbearance, and compassion. Characteristics that should be the hallmark of the Church of Christ.
In this time of Pandemic and Lockdown we are finding again and again the truth of the famous Vulcan statement that ‘The Needs of the Many Outweigh the Needs of the Few’ as people from all walks of life are giving themselves away in the service of strangers and some, like Christ, even laying down their lives for others.
And when we offer this service in unity with our sisters and brothers from different churches and even different faiths people look at us and praise God.
When we learn to put ourselves aside that we may be one we become, wonderfully, the answer to Jesus’ prayer. A thought that at the same time calls us forward, challenges us, and humbles us.
Sometimes, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance and with the prayers of the Church, we step out of the Chorus and into the limelight for a season. We can only do this because our sisters and brothers ‘hold the line’ behind us. And then, when our words have been spoken and our deeds done, we can, with thanks and humility, return to being part of the Chorus and lean that it is not ‘she’ nor ‘he’ but ‘we’ who are ‘The One’.
Encore: Click on song title to watch a video
What I Did For Love Is Cassie’s lament of how much she has poured into the career that she is in danger of losing. The One Who Loves Us Best gave much more than a song and dance routine to show us how much we are loved. Say, ‘thank you’.
[This blog ‘Becoming a Singular, Sensational Church’ is copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2020 and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged. It is an adapted version of one of the reflections in the series ‘A Song for Lent’ the first of which can be found here.]